PIZZAPOCALYPSE 20XX – Post Commentary

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August 27th, 2013 2:24 pm

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It’s been nearly day since I submitted my and Wicked’s Ludum Dare entry, and I’m still kind of basking in the glow of having Made A Thing. I’ve spent a whole lot of time playing and writing about game design, but my attempts at game creation have been very fleeting. So it’s a joy to have teamed up with Wicked and finish something that we feel is a really solid entry for two first-timers!

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Okay, so what in the merry hell is this game? Before LD started, me and Wicked both agreed to make the game in Ren’Py, as we were both hella interested in the Visual Novel genre (and we had both dabbled in Twine in the past). And since it’s always easier to make a game about things you love, necromancers, pizza and badass women collided with urban fantasy, subcultures and neon aesthetics.

Bounty hunters from the London v5.3 Subculture Collective are sent to take out Glam Necromancer, and his nefarious plot to eliminate all pizza from the world. By the time you arrive, only 60 seconds remain in the ritual – what will you do to stop the PIZZAPOCALYPSE?

The tie-in to the theme came as something of a compromise. The original intent was to have a real-time countdown, but it felt beyond the scope of what I could get out of Ren’Py going in blind. What’s more, there was initially only going to be 10 seconds until the ritual completed – but that was both hyper-literal, and leaving no room for much decision making, so it was extended to 60 seconds, with each option branch taking 10 seconds (of in-world time) to execute.

Developing the style of the game was by far the most fun part. All the characters in the story are high-fantasy D&D archetypes (Though a little more obscure than having a Warrior, Mage and Thief), but putting aspects of a subculture to them made them pop, and feel more unique.

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Wyatt Malik, the Glam Necromancer, was our first design. Born fron Wicked insisting we include a Necromancer, and me insisting we include a fabulous dude, we ended up with this sexy beast/massive dork. In generic fantasy stuff, evil magicians are already all about ostentatiousness, so adding in some modern fashion conventions (that hair, dude!) was an easy fit. He has a thing for rituals, meticulous planning and diamante-studded skulls. He’s got a collection in his living room. He listens to Queen and Lady Gaga in equal measures.

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Alana Sorayama’s design was based heavily on those sleek day-glo music videos and artworks from the 80s and 90s. Musically you’d get a good feel of her with from Studio Killers or Justice. She’s a big fan of the movie Drive, and the concept of ‘hard femme’. We went through a few different colour schemes for her design, and what we ended up with was a large colour palette but something still unified. She probably rides a futuristic, incredibly tricked-out motorcycle.

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Kendrick McNiel is classic hypebeast, with big, bright street wear and futuristic dunks you unfortunately can’t see in-game. He was initially to have ladder shades, but it interfered with the readability of his expressions. He gets his Holy Flow powers from the Self Proclaimed God of Hip-Hop (oh who am I kidding, it’s Yeezus), and looks quite stunning when casting spells (I won’t show you here, play the game and witness that shit!). The ‘straight man’ of the game, he’s a force of maximum chill, but is incredibly snide when he feels like it. Even though he’s only in his 20s, he already feels too old for this shit. Musically, you’d get a good feel of him from pretty much anything by Kanye West, Chromeo, or Big Boi.

In terms of writing, I found it easiest to map the game’s paths in Twine, and write some rudimentary dialogue and direction, before replicating the paths in Ren’Py. Although Ren’Py is really easy to use (for its basic functions, at least), everything is still done through coding language, so it really helps to have a visual schematic of how the story flows.

I think the hardest part for the writing was balancing cleverness with tightness. It’s incredibly tempting to be long-winded with descriptions, but no one likes sitting through that shit. Besides, good lines will be easily forgotten if they’re in a scene packed with dense, less exciting dialogue.

Considering the tone and genre, I generally kept things snappy and flippant, with enough grittiness to put it that sweet spot where you’re in the Soho nightclub, but you’ve not bottled anyone yet. This had the side effect of making the overall game a tad short (and I’m not fully happy with how some of the paths play out), but this was made in 72 goddamn hours, go figure.

We’d actually love to add more polish to this in future. Wicked says she really wants to do the backgrounds over, and I’d love to add some more path options, as well as have some of what goes on before the encounter with Glam Necromancer playable.

If you’ve not yet, please play Pizzapocalypse 20XX! We both had a blast making it, and we’re having an even bigger blast trying out everyone else’s entries (with silent salutes of honour to the other Twine and Ren’Py games we come across).


One Response to “PIZZAPOCALYPSE 20XX – Post Commentary”

  1. interesting read, i really enjoyed your game — as you already know — and it has made me interested in maybe making a Ren’Py game of my own. i have to check it out, at least.

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